How I Stay Accountable: Nicola
While we all have different journeys in recovery, most will agree that accountability is a crucial component when it comes to staying clean and sober. Once we admit we want to rebuild our lives—whether it’s to a close friend, a family member or all our followers on Instagram—it becomes a lot harder to just pick up a drink or pop a pill. After all, who wants to risk having to come clean and admit we lost focus for a sec—or, er, three years? Accountability is how we stay on track and we all have people, places and things that have helped us reach our recovery goals. This is how accountability has worked for Nicola.
What does accountability mean to you?
Accountability in relation to my recovery, or any part of my life really, is taking responsibility for my choices and the honesty surrounding my actions as a result of those choices.
Does the fact that people know about your recovery play into you staying sober? How?
The only opinions of me that matter are my children’s. It matters to me that they have a responsible, lucid, loving mother, so yeah, knowing they deserve the best mother possible, and knowing for a fact that they feel safer and super proud of their mother when she’s sober definitely keeps me on top of my game. Anything I do to harm myself, also harms them. But I’m not afraid to fail or be human either. Sober for me is not just ceasing the physical act of consuming alcohol. I could still be a sick momma without ever picking up a drink again if I don’t take care of myself properly. Believe me, in early recovery I was just as chaotic as I was when I was drinking and using and that lasted for a few years.
Who or what are you accountable to in your recovery?
Nobody really. For me recovery is about being accountable to your deepest essence. That essence inside me doesn’t want to self-medicate or harm myself. At the start of recovery it was important for me to prove myself to everyone. Through a lot of work, I’m now confident in my desire to want to be well. If I’m struggling I seek help or call up a friend or whatever, like non-addicts do. My perception of myself and addiction has changed a lot over the years. I’m very much accountable to myself.
How important is having a community to your staying sober? Why?
I think it’s important for everyone to have someone to relate to. Being part of a community is a natural human trait. These days my community is a mixture of people who drink and don’t drink. I don’t think of them as being sober or not sober anymore. I think what’s more important to me staying sober is the kind of people I hang with rather than if they drink or not. Kindness and loyalty are far more important traits to me than if someone drinks or not. Part of my lifestyle change means I don’t hang out in bars and clubs anymore. If that was my community I’m sure it would affect me negatively. It’s wise to choose your community wisely.
Have you ever relapsed? Is there anything you could have done that might have prevented that?
No, I never have. It’s not something that worries me either. If I choose to drink again it will be a choice I make and if it turns out to be horrendous then I can choose something else.
What advice do you give someone who wants to get or stay sober?
Firstly, if someone cannot stop drinking or using or whatever, I advise them to get medical help. That has to be number one. Secondly, I suggest seeing a professional who is an expert in addiction recovery and non-biased towards any particular recovery program. After that the person is armed with the right information to make a decision about what path of recovery they want to take. The person themselves needs to figure that out. Thirdly, I suggest becoming dedicated to themselves. Recovery is not for the faint hearted so it needs to be something you really want for yourself. The substance or behavior is only the surface level of someone’s issues. It runs much deeper.
How important do you think transparency is in your recovery?
I think transparency and honesty is important in all aspects of my life. Being a writer, who writes and runs a website about recovery, it would be extremely important to me to be honest about where I’m at. It’s important because I believe what I do is my life’s work, that I speak loud about the reality of life in addiction and outside of it. Everyone has some go to addiction or behavior that causes them a certain level of discomfort and by speaking out about mine it helps others identify theirs.
How does it feel to earn people’s trust back now that you’re sober?
Trust is a sticky subject and to be perfectly honest, I have no idea if people trust me or not. There are few people I trust in this world so I expect that others are the same in regards to me. People are fallible, as am I, so I take people as they are mostly, without expecting anything. I do my very best and try to be as consistent with that as possible. I guess that’s all I can do to enable people to trust me or my abilities. Trusting myself to do right by myself and my children is the most important thing of all.
Nicola is the Editor-in-Chief of I Love Recovery Cafe, an online publication for people recovering from addiction and mental health issues. She is a contributing author of Hearts and Scars and is a regular contributor to AfterParty Magazine. Follow Nicola on her blog, Living Outside The Box.